I am a British actor, veteran many of West End musicals, lived in New York for 12 years, did a lot of theatre there, a little Broadway, some off-Broadway. Now in LA this past year and have three one-man shows up my sleeve, two of which I wrote myself. The first is called SONGMANDANCEMAN, a 90 min show which tells the story of seven of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century, who each did it all: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, George M Cohan, Donald O’Connor, Sammy Davis Jr, Bobby Darin and Anthony Newley. It tells of their beginning, rise, success and ultimate decline, of how they each honed the musical art form that we recognize today. It has been performed off Broadway at the Triad in NYC, as well as part of the repertory of the Milwaukee Rep, and theaters across the NE United States as part of their rep.
The show has many vignettes, comedy moments, dramatic highlights as well as 28 incredible songs from the Great American Songbook and re-creations of classic numbers like “Singin’ In The Rain”, (where you almost SEE the rain!) “Give My Regards To Broadway” and "What Kind Of Fool Am I?.
The other shows are in a sense dirivatives of the first, although the second show – again, a one-man show, called GEORGE M COHANTONIGHT, was written by Chip Deffaa, (once NY Post Theatre critic and ghost writer to many autobiographies including David Cassidy!) This was written back in 2005 and was a hit off-Broadway with me as Cohan back in 2006.
This 90 min show is set in an abandoned Vaudeville House where Cohan’s ghost appears and tells you his story; how he invented the musical as we know it today, his amazing life as a child star and composer of over 50 musicals and plays, as well as his hits, “Over There”, “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, “Give My Regards to Broadway” and about 24 more… The New York Times raved about this show at its New York premier at the Irish Rep Theatre and I was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Best Solo Performance. (Anthony Sher won -No, I don’t understand either…)
The third show is being completed now, and, again is spawned from the first show: HE WROTEGOODSONGS is the story of Anthony Newley, the acclaimed actor, singer, director and one-time husband of Joan Collins. His compositions include “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory”, “Dr Doolittle”. as well as Broadway shows “Stop The World I Want To Get Off” and “The Roar Of The Greasepaint, The Smell Of The Crowd”. His songs include “Goldfinger”, “What Kind Of Fool Am I?”, “Who Can I Turn To?”, “Gonna Build A Mountain”, “Candy Man” and “Feeling Good”. Anthony appears at the top of the show as a child in the grimy East End of London in the 1930’s and transforms before us into the genius musical maverick and eccentric that he was to become. About twenty of his great songs will knock the audience for six and the arc, comedy and pathos of the show is palpable.
I hope at least one of these shows interests you guys at the Fringe. I am gung-ho to do all three if I get the opportunity. The first two are all ready to go now, as I’ve performed them both many times, and the third show is almost complete and is potentially amazing. All three can be done with either just piano or piano/bass/drums.
Here are some clips: SONGMANDANCEMAN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1SjBCui_JU GEORGE M COHANTONIGHT: http://youtu.be/3q2AOEOzLmg
HE WROTEGOODSONGS (demo performance): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rSPCABtlwU